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fire, but the odours of it ascend up before him with acceptance, and are “well pleasing to him through Jesus Christ h.”
The manifestations of God in it are also more bright. True, in the material temple, God so filled it, that the priests could no longer stop to minister there! But in his spiritual temple he dwells, not by a bright cloud, the symbol of his presence, but by his own immediate presence; making it “his habitation through the Spiritk," and displaying to the view of every faithful worshipper “ all the glory of the Godhead in the face of Jesus Christ?."
The whole economy of it, also, is more lasting. The material temple has been so entirely destroyed, that not even its site can now be accurately ascertained. But the spiritual Temple shall endure for ever, as we are told by the beloved Apostle: “I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he will be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away m.” The Romans utterly subverted the one: but not all the power and policy of hell shall ever prevail against the other.]
What zeal, then, can be too great, in promoting such a work as this ?
(Did David “prepare with all his might for the house which he was forbidden to construct?” Surely we should spare no labour and no cost in advancing the work to which we are called. We should devote to it both our persons and our property: our persons doubtless in the first instance"; for without that sacrifice, all the wealth of kingdoms would be a vain and empty, yea, a hateful and detestable offering : but with that, we must present also our gold and our silver, to the utmost extent of our power P. It cannot be that men should go forth to preach the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles, all over the world, at their own cost: nor can the Holy Scriptures be translated into all languages, and be dispersed over all countries, without great and liberal contributions. But if David and his subjects gave so richly of their substance to raise a temple of wood and stone, and even adored God for giving them the inclination and ability to contribute', much more should we
h Ps. li. 17. i 1 Kings viii. 10, 11. k Eph. ii. 22. 1 2 Cor. üi. 18. m Rev. xxi. 3, 4.
n 2 Cor. viii. 5. o Isai. lxvi. 3. Rom. xi. 1.
P ver. 13, 14. 9 2 Cor. viii. 3, 4. If there were only 12,5001. raised, as for the London Society, it would occupy the space of 4000 years ! How little do we, for the souls of God's Ancient People, in comparison of David ! be willing to give all that we can spare-I had almost said, all that we possess, for the advancing of God's kingdom over the face of the whole earth.
Shall it be thought that our present contributions are large? Suppose them to be fifty thousand a year; there will be a lapse of a thousand years before we have collected what David and his servants gave, before so much as a single stone was laid.
Shall it be said, as it often is, in reference to the Millennium, “It will not take place in our day?”. Be it so, if you please : yet learn from David, that that consideration, even if it were certain, should not induce you in the least degree to relax your exertions. You should still “prepare for it with all your might,” and help it forward to the utmost of your power
If any one say, “I can do nothing towards that great work;" let him know, that he has at least one Temple to prepare, even his own soul, which must, ere it can be happy, become “ Temple of the living God": " that you must prepare, by penitence and faith, to be the habitation of Almighty God. But take care that “ Christ be the foundation on which you
build; for there neither is, nor can be, any othert.” Take care, also, what your superstructure is: “If it be hay, straw, stubble, it will be burnt up. It must be of gold, and silver, and precious stones," in order to be approved of the Lord. Take care, also, not to retain in your bosom any evil disposition. God could not endure that his temple of old should be defiled; much less will he suffer with impunity any lusts to be harboured in the soul of man: “If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the Temple of God is holy : which Temple ye are *.” I call on every one of you, then, to be “workers together with God” in this sacred causey: and, “ whatever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might ?."]
ri Cor. iii. 16. and vi. 19.
s 2 Cor. vi. 16.
SAINTS STRANGERS ON EARTH.
1 Chron. xxix. 15. We are strangers before thee, and sojourners,
as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding,
THE more truly pious we are, the more shall we be clothed with humility. On no occasion had David evinced more exalted piety, than in his preparations for the building and furnishing the temple, which he was not permitted in his lifetime to erect. “ He had prepared for it with all his might,” “ because he had set his affection to the house of his Goda.” He contributed to the amount of about eighteen millions of money: and his people also shewed a similar liberality, according to their power. And what reflections did these efforts generate in his mind? Was he filled with self-complacency? or did he assume any merit to himself ? No: he gave to God the glory of all that had been done, acknowledging that the power to do it was the effect of his bounty, and the disposition to do it the fruit of his grace. A more sublime ascription of praise will scarcely be found in all the Book of God, than that which he uttered on this occasion. He bore in mind, that, as his continuance here was but of short duration, it became him to exert himself with all possible zeal, whilst any opportunity to serve God remained. The expressions which he made use of in my text will lead me to shew you, I. The state of man as it is here represented
Man is but “a stranger and sojourner” upon earth
[This world is not our home. If we are saints indeed, we have been born from above: we are children of a heavenly Father: we are of “ the family of which Christ is the head," and the glorified saints and angels are the members: and heaven itself is the inheritance to which we are begotten b. This world is but a wilderness, through which we are passing to our Father's house. We are mere pilgrims here. The people amongst whom we sojourn are governed by different laws, and speak a different language, and are strangers to us, even as we are to them. Our communion with them is such as necessity alone requires. Wherever we are, we are only like travellers in an inn. Our stay is of uncertain duration. If our accommodations be good, we are thankful for them; but
a ver. 2, 3.
b 1 Pet. i. 3, 4.
not much elated, because we regard them as merely momentary, and have our minds intent on far higher joys to come. On the other hand, if our accommodations be of a less comfortable nature, we feel no great disappointment. We consider that as incident to our state as travellers; and are consoled with the thought, that in due season we shall reach our home, where there is fulness of joy for evermore.
This has been the state of all the saints, from the beginning : the patriarchs “confessed it to be theirs ;” and gloried in the thought that they were “ seeking a better country,” which they should inhabit for ever.]
This representation is confirmed by actual experience
[“Our days on earth are but as a shadow, and there is none abiding. Behold the shadow of a cloud passing over the fields; how rapidly does it proceed! and how speedily does it vanish, not leaving the slightest trace of it behind! Thus generations pass away, and “the places where they have lived know them no more.
“ No one has found here any continuing city.” The antediluvians lived for eight or nine hundred years; yet they died at last. How short, then, is our continuance, now that the term of life is reduced to seventy or eighty years! Let the oldest of us look back : our life seems to have been but “a mere span :" it has “declined as a shadowd;" it has come to an end, as a tale that is tolde;" has been “ as a vapour, that appeareth for a moment, and then vanisheth away?.” Thus it has been with all, however great, or however good. The kings of the earth, that have made all the world to stand in awe of them, have passed away; yea, and their very empires have vanished with them. Where are now the Assyrian, Babylonish, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires ? They have been swallowed up, as it were, and lost; together witń the monarchs by whom they were established. In like manner, " the Prophets and Apostles, where are they?” they filled but an appointed time, and then were taken to their eternal rest. But, in truth, the very place where we are assembled gives us a convincing evidence, that, whether by choice or not, the same character pertains to every one of us; we are but pilgrims upon earth, hastening every moment to our destined home.]
Let us, then, mark, II. The conduct which the consideration of that
state is calculated to inspire
c Heb. xi. 13, 14.
e Ps. xc. 9.
d Ps. cii. 11. f Jam. iv. 14.
Frequently is the consideration of that state urged upon us, as a motive to that habit of mind which the state itself demands. “I beseech you, then, as strangers and pilgrims," 1. Be moderate in your regards for earthly things
[A man intent on reaching his destined home, would not think of making a place his rest, because of its beautiful prospects or its comfortable accommodations. He would be pleased with them, and thankful for them as refreshments by the way; but he would not think of resting in them as
portion. So must we look beyond these transient things, and rest in nothing short of our destined home. To this effect is the counsel of the Apostle Paul: “ This I say, Brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not'; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth awayh.” “Let your moderation, then, be known unto all men:” and “ set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.”]
2. Be diligent in the prosecution of your journey heaven-ward
[You have no time to lose. Whether your stay in this wilderness be more or less protracted, you will find every hour short enough for the making of such a progress as will ensure a happy termination of your labours. You are not merely in a journey; but in a race, which requires the most strenuous and unremitted exertions. Whatever advance you may have made, you are to "forget what is behind, and to press forward to that which is before, that so you may attain the prize of your high calling." And never are you to be weary of welldoing; for “then only will you reap, if you faint not."] 3. Avail yourselves of the aids which God has
provided for you by the way
[To his people in the wilderness, God gave a daily supply of manna from the clouds, and of water from the rock that followed them. And similar provision has he made for us also, in our way to the promised land: and, in the strength of it, we may prosecute our journey without fear. If we are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," what may we not undertake, with a full assurance of success? We need
8 1 Pet. ii. 11.
h 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30.